ROBERT THORBURN AYTON INNES was born in Edinburgh and educated in Dublin. In 1879, at the age of seventeen years, he became a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He was married in London and began his career as a double star observer in Sydney, where he soon became of repute among astronomers. Half a dozen years later he deliberately sacrificed his quite considerable material prosperity in order to become temporary clerical assistant to Sir David Gill at the Royal Observatory, Cape of Good Hope, at a salary just one-tenth of his income in New South Wales. No weak, ‘Safety First’ principle in this sudden plunge but everything he had, wife, family, capital and reputation, risked. In after years it gave Sir David pleasure to record the insatiable appetite of his ‘Secretary, Librarian and Accountant’ for work, extra work and yet more work.